Opinion: Consolidate Alaska Native villages
"A village of 200 or 300 people, only half of whom are adults, cannot offer adequate education or health care. It can't provide law enforcement or effective local government. There are few social services, minimal intervention for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Most villages are so small that food, fuel -- anything shipped in -- is unbelievably expensive. There are few jobs and no real prospects for the future. Some villages are eroding into the sea.

As a result, many Natives are leaving the village for the city, where they face a different set of problems. Despite all the state has done, and all that rural Alaskans have done, most small villages will probably not be around after another generation or so.

There is a better way. Out of 270-some villages, the state has identified 18 that would be viable centers for new boroughs. We should be concentrating our resources in those communities.

Let's start with a regional magnet school that fosters the local Native culture while fully preparing its graduates for college, the military or a good job. Open an Internet learning center for vocational programs from the university."

Get the Story:
Kirk Wickersham: Future of the Bush is in small number of bigger villages (The Anchorage Daily News 11/13)

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Opinion: Strengthen ties to Alaska Native families (11/4)
Gov. Palin urged to form Native village task force (9/30)